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Applying Positive Psychology with People in Organisations:
Nicky Page and Alex Linley
To strike a challenging note, the editorial, jarred for me with the assertion that “The field of positive Psychology was introduced by Linley and Joseph in 2004 in their seminal edited volume … etc.) I’d have thought they were building on some fairly well-established foundations, a few decades of Appreciative Inquiry, for example.
Situational Strengths: A Strategic Approach Linking Personal Capability to Corporate Success,
Laurence Lyons and Alex Linley
In the next article I found my thoughts provoked. At first, I found the approach rather mechanical, a matching between lists of individual strengths and situational demands but I did like the analogy which imagined Hercules in chains. As he was unable to use his mythical strength he had to learn oratory. While his entry-level speaking skills were poor, they served him better than his peerless muscle, straining ever harder against his chains.
It reminded me of an insight from a psychometric instrument called the IDI. It suggests that the key to success lies not in any quadrant of the grid on which the results are displayed. It lies rather in an individual’s ability to recognise the needs of other people and of situations and to adapt their own behaviour accordingly. Sometimes our awkward stretch into an unfamiliar style delivers ten times more than our highly polished best in the wrong time and place.
Whose Engagement is it Anyway?
Martin Galpin, Martin Stairs and Nicky Page.
Another paper here which stirred me up considerably. It helped me to see a pervasive assumption that HR management is a means to an end. We strive to persuade our budget-strapped leaders of its value by showing how it will improve the performance of the organisation. I know we have to do this yet it can seem perverse when our case for more meaningful human existence and respectful treatment of people has to be justified by its impact on output. Some of the contemporary research ideas referred to reminded me of Herzberg’s Hygiene Factors from the 1960s.
My biggest shock came from a reference to some research into happiness which suggests that DNA accounts for 50% of the variation, situation accounts for 10% and the remaining 40% is down to ‘volitional activity’. I really need to think about this as my sympathy has long been with the WE Deming school of thought which suggests that an individual’s scope for autonomy is tiny – less than 10%. These views seem to be incompatible but perhaps I am comparing chalk and cheese.
Suspending judgement for now, a new scope does seem to open up in how to encourage or enable or provoke people to opt into engagement. I find this an empowering idea which must be good! I love it when this exercise of responding to articles shifts me from a position of judgement and criticism to one of appreciation.
Change Leadership that Works: The Role of Positive Psychology,
Professor Malcolm Higgs and Deborah Rowland.
I found this an inspiring article. To pick some highlights: 1. It is rooted in complexity, 2. It deals with the assumption that change is bound to provoke resistance (even taking a dig at Kotter, revered titan of change management). 3. It lays out some intriguing characteristics of effective leaders of change. 4. Its model of change is one where change comes about “when a few key assumptions and patterns are changed”.
Seeking the Positive from the Negative: Morally Courageous Human Resource Management,
Now! How wonderful. This is why I belong to AMED. Morally courageous human resource management! What a concept! That moral courage should be required to carry out human resource management. Why am I so excited by this? Twenty years ago I would not have had the vaguest notion of what this article is about. I suspect, even now, few of my colleagues at work would make much of it. It addresses a layer of complexity which may not be easy to see but which, once seen, rings with truth and clarity. It also proposes a wonderful summary of the elements of moral courage.
Envisioning, Enabling and Enacting: Individual and Organisational Development as Metamorphosis,
This article started me wondering when my own thinking started to change, in particular, when I started to see organisations as organisms rather than machines. Nigel describes an organic model with four S-shaped life-cycle phases: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly, beautifully illustrated with elegant graphics whose geometric precision I found just a touch too perfect. However, I loved the notion that an organisation should not hope to live forever. Rather, it should seek to broadcast its DNA and spread the influence of its values.